Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Don't Apologize for Living


There was a time when I would apologize for not having blogged for a day, and would have begged for forgiveness for missing four days. But that feels like a lifetime ago and terribly silly. Seriously, why apologize for living, for living in your moments rather than blogging about the moments?

The thing is, I often read blog posts about living, being in the moment, being present. But at the same time there are no blogging breaks, no lapses in tweeting, instagraming, facebooking. I'm not pointing any fingers mind you. It's just an observation. And I think many times the posts are meant to be encouraging. But the blogger should follow through too right?

And the thing is, I get it. As a blogger, if you miss a few posts, aren't on all the social media channels all the time, you get forgotten. Quickly. And that kind of makes me a bit sad. So if you want to keep your readers, if you want to keep your engagement up, then you have to be "on" all the time. You have to share, post, tweet, etc. 

So where does living in the moment, being present come into play? Can you be present but be plugged in? Honestly, I'm going to say, "no." How can bloggers make time to truly be present, to really unplug and be in the moment but also stay connected and engaged? 

And it's not just about having the most readers, page views, unique visitors, comments, shares … not for me. But I love the comments on my blog. I love the interaction with my friends. And, honestly, it's also about trying to promote my business. But there are times when it can take over. 

I can easily spend 30 minutes or more responding to comments. That's time I'm not taking for myself. It's time I'm not enjoying being outside, enjoying just talking with Jason, or even playing with the dogs. It's time spent plugged in. No, I don't have to respond. I want to. Someone took time to comment and I want to return that with a reply, with a conversation. I love hearing from friends. 

I don't really have any answers in this rambling post. Not really any coherent thoughts. But then again, blogging can be that way right? It's not always about informative posting, about reviews and giveaways, about awesomely inspiring words of wisdom. Sometimes, sometimes it's simply personal words, thoughts, feelings. 

And sometimes I believe that blogging has moved away from that, from personal more towards informative. This isn't all bad mind you. I learn a lot every day. I am inspired every day. But sometimes I feel like I'm missing the person behind the posts. 

How can bloggers be present, be genuine (but also informative), and also remain engaged? Here are my thoughts. Many may disagree, but that's ok because they are my thoughts right?

  • Schedule time to completely unplug, don't just talk about it.
  • Take blogging breaks without any guilt or apologies. 
  • Include your voice and personality especially with informative & review posts.
  • Be human. Life isn't always sunshine and puppy dogs.
  • Avoid jumping on the proverbial bandwagon. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Fun for Friday - Runners' Contradictions


I think most people would agree, even runners themselves, that runners are a strange lot. We speak in code sometimes talking about 400s, 800s, BQing, DNS, DNF, and so on. Another thing I've noticed about runners is that we tend to contradict ourselves quite often. We say things like, "I hate racing." Then we brag about signing up for races. That's smart isn't it?

Wind


  • I hate the wind. Typically said when it's cold and/or gusting 20+ mph.
  • OMG where is the wind??? Usually uttered on a hot, muggy run.
  • Oh man that wind feels fantastic. Shouted with glee during the summer. 

Rain


  • I hate rain. Usually grumbled during the winter, torrential downpour, or when it's gusting winds.
  • I love running in the rain. Either said during the summer or right after a rainy run when you're giddy and don't know what you're thinking and saying. 

Temperature


  • I hate running in the freezing cold. Said angrily during the cold, dark winter mornings when you're dressed in multiple layers of everything and sleet is pelting your eyeballs. 
  • Ugh, it's never ever going to warm up. Muttered in the early spring when we're just happy to wear a single layer of clothing. 
  • Man I wish it would cool off again. Said during the summer when we've forgotten what 14 degrees feels like and we're melting because it's 90 degrees at 5 am. 

Time


  • I hate getting up early to run. Uttered when the alarm jolts you awake at 5 am.
  • I love running in the morning. Said dreamily when you see a sunrise or when you're done and you know you're DONE for the day.
  • I love running after work. Said usually when the temperatures are ideal after work (warmer, but not too warm).
  • I hate running after work. Grumbled when you are worn out from the day and it's now too hot to run. 
  • I love running at lunch. Said when the weather is absolutely perfect and you need to get outside.
  • I don't like to run at lunch. Usually said when your stomach is about to eat itself or the weather went south.

Foam Roller


  • I love my foam roller. Said after you're done using it and your muscles are happy.
  • I hate that torture device. Said with a whimper when you're just starting to roll out a knot. 

Traffic


  • Ugh, I hate traffic, why are all these cars out. Said with an annoyed humph when you had to stop yet again, totally disrupting your flow.
  • Love traffic, so happy it's busy today. Thought secretly when you're struggling during a run and the only way you'll allow yourself to stop is when traffic forces you to do so at intersections. 
What are some of your running or workout contradictions?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Think Positively


Do you ever have those moments when you really just need some inspiration, some words of wisdom? We all have ups and downs, we get sick, we get injured, we have bad days. I'm not going to bore anyone with my issues, annoyances, grievances. I do try to stay positive, as much as I can. Sometimes we need gentle reminders though.

So today I'm going to try to think positively about problems. Care to join me?  


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Chipotle Maple Tofu Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad

Do you ever make dishes that sound like they're meant for one season, but actually can be good in another season? Last week I did just that.

I had a butternut squash that needed to be used, but I really wasn't sure how I wanted to use it. I also had some red quinoa stashed in the freezer, so I started to think about ways to incorporate the quinoa with the squash. I decided that a salad sounded good.

I know that it's spring, but it sure isn't feeling much like spring around here. So the comforting flavors of fall actually sounded appealing. I love the sweetness of butternut squash pared with the tartness of dried cranberries. But I also really like some spice to my food.

I ended up trying out a new marinade/dressing for tofu using maple syrup, something I almost never use unless a specific recipe calls for it. But maple syrup, butternut squash and cranberries sounded more like a desert. This is where the chipotle peppers come into play. The smoky heat helps offset the sweetness of the other ingredients without being over-powering.


Chipotle Maple Tofu Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad
Ingredients:
1 package extra firm tofu, pressed and cubed
1 small butternut squash
1/2 cup no-salt vegetable broth
2-3 tbsp minced red onion
3 - 3 1/2 tbsp maple syrup
1-2 tbsp dried chipotle peppers flakes (could also use chipotle in adobo)
1 tbsp parsley
Salt, to taste
1 1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard
Several handfuls of fresh spinach (could also use frozen or even kale)
2 cups red quinoa, cooked
Toasted pecans, chopped (optional and as many as you prefer)
1/4 - 1/3 cup dried cranberries

Directions:
Whisk together broth, onions, maple syrup, chipotle peppers, parsley, salt, red wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, and Dijon mustard. Poor over tofu and allow to marinate at least 1 hour or overnight. Reserve the marinade to use as a dressing.

When tofu has marinated, preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Peel, remove seeds and cube butternut squash. Toss with small drizzle of olive oil and place on a baking sheet. Bake approximately 20 minutes, stir and bake an additional 15-20 until tender. At the same time, bake your tofu flipping once halfway through and baking until golden and firm.

Prepare quinoa according to package instructions.

While the quinoa is warm, toss with spinach and cranberries so that it helps wilt the lettuce and soften the cranberries. Set aside to cool. When the tofu and butternut squash are ready, toss with the quinoa, add in the pecans and any remaining chipotle maple marinade.

What's great about this salad is that it can be eaten warm, room temp or cold. This makes it perfect pretty much all year if you ask me. You could easily leave out the tofu and serve as a side dish. Lentils would be quite good in this as well.

Jason and I both raved about how well it turned out. I was very pleased at how perfectly all the flavors and textures played together.

I think that part of the key to a good dish is having a variety of textures and a nice depth to the flavors. It doesn't have to be complicated. You don't have to use a million ingredients to get that depth and richness, it's just about pairing the right ingredients together so that they compliment one another. Maybe a bit like a relationship no?


Friday, April 4, 2014

Fun for Friday - Positives of Not Running


Well we made it to Friday! And while my general topic isn't fun (injuries), I wanted to turn it into something fun.

Let me back up a minute (or 6 days). For a few weeks I was having a niggling pain over a bone near my ankle and the upper part of my arch was feeling really fatigued and achy. But not like plantar fasciitis. I started backing off my miles and make a very conscious effort to include more slower runs.

I thought I was doing dandy. You know, playing by the rules. I've been adding in more strength workouts for deep core, glutes, and hips. I've been rolling my calves, piriformis, IT band, feet. However, I've been neglecting my feet again, with the exception of rolling the crap out of them. So, more specifically I've been neglecting strengthening the intrinsic muscles of the feet.

By the end of my 10-miler last Saturday, I was starting to hobble. My foot pain had reached it's threshold telling me I was done. As most of us do these days, I turned to the internet to start searching for the diagnosis. As a personal trainer, I had to study and learn muscles, understand insertion points, tendons, ligaments. Let's just say that pays off for running injuries.

I diagnosed myself with Posterior Tibial Tendinitis. I iced my foot. I taped it up with KT Tape. I stopped running. I read up on how to prevent, how to rehab, trigger point releases, massaging techniques ... you get the picture.

By Wednesday, the pain was not easing up and walking was difficult in and of itself. So, I sucked it up and went to the doctor. I always feel like it's such a waste of time to be honest. However, I can't write scripts for myself ... so I went. My biggest fear was stress fracture. However, I really didn't think it was that. The doctor confirmed my self diagnosis of Posterior Tibial Tendonitis. I'm good huh?

His course of action is mega dosage of anti-inflammatory, icing, resting. At a minimum rest is 7 days. Maximum is 14. He said that when the pain is gone, I should be fine. However, if it comes back, it could be something more. Great diagnosis doctor. I guess my annoyance isn't even the rest part, it's that he didn't suggest anything like what I had read about prevention. Let's prevent the problem from happening again not just assume it is something else when I start running again.

Anyway, trying not to dwell on that annoyance. I will start to incorporate physical therapy exercises according to what I've been reading. If anything, they'll help prevent plantar fasciitis in the future. These are exercises that my physical therapist had prescribed to me two years ago. Funny how you stop doing things you know you should be doing when you think you're recovered.

So, the fun part ... Positives of Not Running (gasp)

  • Less laundry to contend with.
  • No real need to get up at dark-thirty.
  • No playing chicken with the traffic or being annoyed when you have to wait forever at intersections.
  • Not inhaling massive amounts of pollen.
  • It's windy out? Who cares. I'm not running in it.
  • It's raining out? Who cares. I'm not running in it.
  • More time for strength training (just no alternating lunges I discovered)
  • More time with the bike on the bike trainer. I'm blowing through Season 3 of Parenthood.
  • Time on the bike has me convinced I'm building amazing quads.
  • No worries about being attacked by dogs, geese or any other strange animal.
  • No need to slather on sunscreen for workouts.
  • More "free" time on my hands. 
And of course, I have a list of negatives. But that's no fun to read or listen to. I mean, I do kinda of miss picking out my running attire, planning out my routes, even that pesky wind in my face. 


What are the positives of not being able to do a particular workout or activity that you typically enjoy?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Workout Wednesday - Full Body Tabata Strength

I don't know about you, but when I hear the word, "Tabata" I immediately think of a cardio workout. Tabata workouts typically include exercises like burpees, squat jumps and mountain climbers for an intense interval workout.

However, the tabata set up (20 seconds on 10 seconds off) can also be used with resistance training as well. No, it's not quite the same fat-burning cardio workout as a normal tabata workout, but it provides a great circuit style workout that can be a welcome change from your typical resistance training routine.

It is important to note that proper form is more important than the amount of weight you are lifting. When you do a weight workout based on time rather than number of reps, you typically have to go lighter with your weights to ensure good form.

Begin your workout with 10-minute warmup on treadmill and/or using dynamic movements to warm up the muscles. Some examples include: jumping jacks, leg swings, no weight lunges, no weight squats, butt kicks.

For this workout, do each exercise for 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds rest before moving to next exercise. After completing all 8 exercises, rest 1 minute then repeat 4-6 times. Each circuit is 5 minutes.


Do you ever change up your resistance training to include the tabata set up or do you prefer to stick with number of reps vs timed?

*Disclaimer: Although I am an ISSA Certified Fitness Trainer, you should consult a physician before starting any exercise program or diet plan. If you choose to do any of the workouts featured on this website, you do so at your own risk.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Measuring Progress Without a Scale


When you set up goals for yourself, how do you measure progress? I imagine that it varies depending on the goal. It likely often includes some sort of number, like a dollar amount, a certain weight at the gym, a certain distance for running, etc.

As a personal trainer, one thing I've noticed is that clients will set goals that include phrases like, "become healthier," "live a healthier lifestyle," "become healthier for my family." However, they almost all have very specific numbers in their minds that will equal those achievements. Usually it's a specific weight goal. Reaching x pounds on the scale somehow equates to being healthier. 

So then it makes sense that, for many people, you measure your progress by stepping on a scale. If the number goes in the direction you want, that's success. If it doesn't, that's failure. But scales lie my friends. And yes, sometimes I have to remind myself of that fact as well. Are you sure your scale is 100% accurate? Don't we almost all believe the doctor's scales are somehow wrong? 

And what about those fancy scales that measure BMI, body fat percent, even water weight? Where do those calculations come from? How accurate are they? I actually came across one article that suggested that most scales don't accurately show a percent fat change for weight loss that is approximately 5 pounds or less. 

What I find a bit funny is that even if we aren't math whizzes somehow we still like numbers. Numbers seem more tangible. More definite, scientific perhaps. But why do we trust numbers more than we trust how we actually look and feel? Especially if those numbers aren't truly showing the whole picture? 

So how are you to measure progress when you're wanting to track weight loss? 


First off, my suggestion is: don't focus on weight. Yes, you do need to know weight for certain calculations like body fat and caloric intake needs. But it's important to not get hung up on that number and determine your success or failure based solely on that number. 

I suggest to focus on losing body fat and increasing lean muscle mass. This is done with a plan that includes resistance and cardio training and proper nutrition. 

If a client tells me they "only" lost x pounds, but I check their body fat percentage and that's gone down and their lean muscle mass has increased, I call that a success, progress. The truth of the matter is, you can weigh more but have less fat. Again, the number on the scale doesn't define the big picture. 

If your body fat percent is down, you're looking fitter, your clothes are fitting better but you weigh the same, how is that not progress? Just because someone weights x pounds doesn't mean they're in shape. Someone can weight 125 but have excess body fat. That's not healthy, that's not progress.  That's just a number on the scale, again, not telling the entire story.  

I think progress for fitness and health can be measured in many ways that do not at all include the number on a scale (this is certainly not a full list).



How do you measure progress?